In honour of the one year anniversary since our successful crowdfund campaign, I thought I'd write a little bit about it. Back then, we were all too busy to stop and reflect, but we learned a lot, and - considering how impactful crowdfunding can be - I thought it was worth sharing some of the insights I gained in case other people can benefit.
Turning Earth was featured in the Crowdfunder Hall of Fame after our campaign generated interest unusually quickly, and the initial target we set was reached in less than 48 hours. I wouldn't want to take too much credit for that; there's nothing stopping an idea whose time has come, and London was due for an open-access ceramics studio on the scale of those found in the US. Still, we were committed, and we'd done the groundwork in building up our audience, and we did everything we could to make it a success. In the end, we raised £18,000 in the pre-sale, and the donations kept coming in long after the campaign ended.
Crowdfunder and crowdfunding were very important to our development, and I would highly recommend this approach to other people trying to launch a social enterprise. The infogram above shows a bit about how it works. The amounts raised in a campaign may seem small compared to what you need, but doing a public crowdfund enables you to leverage funds from other sources. It's a bit like a fundraiser mixed with a proof of concept that enables banks and other funders to understand how your market works.
If I had any tips on how to do it, it would be to study other successful campaigns in the same field as yours. I adapted our strategy from the crowdfund that started The Bicycle Academy, orchestrated by Andrew Denham, to whom I'll always be indebted. His tip to build your audience and 'hit the ground running' was really the most important thing I learned. I worked on networking for a year, building up our social media presence and interacting with our audience using surveys, long before we asked people to commit to financing the project. If you are trying to get your campaign off the ground, I highly recommend you read Andrew Denham's advice, published here: www.thebicycleacademy.org/crowd-funding.
As someone with a background in sales, I also can't stress enough the importance of learning a bit about the science of how a sale works. I would suggest reading a book like Brian Tracy's, The Psychology of Selling. After you've got the theory, then you could go and learn the ropes of pitching by doing a bit of 'chugging' (charity mugging, more respectfully known as face-to-face fundraising). It's a good way to give something to the world while getting a free crash course in sales. And I am not the only person to have learned reams from this approach; I recently learned that Leo Lawson-O'Neill, the creative director of Eat Work Art (the company behind Hackney Downs Studios and Netil House) also did exactly that before he became an entrepreneur.
The crowdfund launch night was one of the highlights of my life to date. There was a hugely supportive atmosphere as people came together with a common purpose. It was the birth of a wonderful community and I am extremely proud to be able to say that, one year on, it continues to flourish.
To learn more about our crowdfund campaign you can watch the video we made, here: